E-commerce Link: Time for a Tuneup
The height of the header should be compact. Those who view e-mails in the preview pane should be able to see some of your content or offer. A large header takes up a lot of room and cuts down on your effectiveness and readability.
• E-mail width: Conventional wisdom says that your e-mail should be between 600 and 700 pixels wide. This width gives you the best chance of having it display in the variety of e-mail readers used by your recipients.
However, width standards are likely to change over the next year or so as more people use smartphones and other mobile devices to view their e-mails. Keep a pulse on your audience, and when the time is right, you may want to reduce the width of your e-mails to 550 or 500 pixels.
• Columns: Should a marketer use one column, two columns or more? There is no pat answer to this question. For example, promotional e-mails that highlight a sale or special offer are often a single pane. Personally, I have a bias toward using a two-column design for most e-mails, whether for a content-driven newsletter, promotion of one or more products or services, an alert, or a seminar invite.
The beauty of a two-column design is that it expands your options and enhances the readability of your e-mail. It's difficult for the eye to track across the full width of the e-mail, and much easier if the span is shorter.
The ClubSymantec e-newsletter (on page 15) focuses on those who use Symantec's Norton PC security products. The company follows best practices in the header—notice how compact it is, although the newsletter date takes up a fair amount of room and pushes the actual content down.